What CEOs Said Last Week: "Voices of warning are few and far between"

What CEOs Said Last Week: "Voices of warning are few and far between"




by Scott Krisiloff, CIO, Avondale Asset Management

The first week of earnings season showed a continued abundance of optimism.  Expectations have definitely risen for the economy.  Curiously though, expectations have not risen for interest rates.  Citigroup’s CEO mentioned that he only expects one rate hike per year through 2020.  Banks were prominent this week and credit quality remains strong, but CRE is an area where there appears to be a growing mismatch between risk and reward.

The Macro Outlook:

Optimism abounds

“Main Street continues to rebound. Our confidence is up. I’ve been in 23 of our 26 regions in the last few months…everyone is talking about increased optimism on the part of small- and medium-sized businesses…I’ve had 23 lunches where I’m sitting and talking to six to eight business people over the last few months. I’ve gotten this across our entire footprint…All of that is very, very positive.” —BB&T CEO Kelly King (Bank)

CEOs are confident

“I would say the CEOs are confident, the conversations are happening all the time and strategic M&A in the U.S. those discussions are occurring especially in technology and consumer retail and natural resources.” —Goldman Sachs CFO Martin Chavez (Investment Bank)

Consumers and investors are bullish on America

“across all the years since the crisis there has been ebbs and flows in customers’ views about where they want to invest and the cash portion of our balances has come up and down. But I think the consumer and the investor are very bullish on America and they continue investing” —Bank of America CFO Paul Donofrio (Bank)

Retail investors are highly engaged with the market

“We are seeing this quarter very broad-based engagement in the market, so everyone from brand-new customers opening their first account to very active traders seem to be engaged in the market. We saw a good activity across pretty much all of our products…So on the other end, the conundrum part is, as we said, we’re at multi-decade lows in the VIX, which tends to drive more trading activity.” —TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey (Broker)

Voices of warning are few and far between

“…don’t be mesmerized by the blue skies created by central bank QE and near perpetually low interest rates. All markets are increasingly at risk….Strategies involving risk reduction should ultimately outperform “faux” surefire winners generated by central bank printing of money. It’s the real economy that counts and global real economic growth is and should continue to be below par.” —Janus Portfolio Manager Bill Gross (Investment Management)

Yet the expectation of low yields persists

“while markets have started to anticipate a normalization, a policy in the environment of sustained expansion, negative yields remain a reality in some countries and expectations for a continued low yield environment persists.” —Blackrock CEO Larry Fink (Investment Management)

Central banks aren’t very hawkish

“The incoming information confirms a continued strengthening of the economic expansion in the euro area, which has been broadening across sectors and regions…While the ongoing economic expansion provides confidence that inflation will gradually head to levels in line with our inflation aim, it has yet to translate into stronger inflation dynamics.” —ECB President Mario Draghi (Central Bank)

Citigroup is only expecting four more rate hikes through 2020

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